Production Talk - 'Female Games' by Kan Lume

Almost like an annual Singapore International Film Festival tradition, Kan Lume makes his mark again. This time with 'Female Games'. Apparently, he's just wrapped his project, so here are some scoops on it.

The film is a portrait. Confessions of a Pan-Asian model.The film takes place in Kuala Lumpur. Alexia, a young model together with her friend Sandy, leave Singapore and arrive to look for representation. As they go through the casting process, Alexia quickly finds herself at the center of attention and Sandy becomes jealous.Through the journey, she grapples with what it means to be Pan-Asian and Lesbian.

Jeremy (J) : When did you make this film?
Kan (K) : I began sometime July 2008. It has taken roughly 8 months to finish the film.

J : How was the idea for your film conceived? What inspired you?

K : I chanced upon a very brave actress by the name of Evelyn Maria Ng,who was excited to make a film and trusted me a great deal. As I spoketo her, I became fascinated with the concept of a simple girl, born with extraordinary beauty, and the burdens and opportunities that would bring. (pause)

At the same time, I met Shen Qiaoyun. She is the complete opposite, a perfect counterbalance to Maria. She is a deep thinker with many great talents. I envisioned two characters with a common goal (to be a successful model), yet using different means to obtain it. The scenes were designed to pit one against another. One used great effort, while the other had natural grace. I love both characters a great deal. Their different strengths and weaknesses fascinate and repel me in equal measure. That may account for the lack of a clear “bad guy” in the film.

Kuala Lumpur and Penang were also important inspirations. 80% of thefilm was shot outside Singapore. I find it increasingly difficult tobe inspired by Singapore’s cleanliness and cramp-ness. The filth and disorder of KL was extremely beautiful and Penang’s beaches were awe-inspiring.

J : Your previous 3 features are very different from each other. How does this compare to them?
K : The Art of Flirting depicts a couple. Solos deals with family. Dreams From The Third World involves Singapore society and Female Games explores the overseas experience in comparison to life in Singapore.

J : The title rings a bell with 'The Art of Flirting', do they share a common origin/inspiration?
K : The Art of Flirting and Female Games feature two characters going through different stages of a relationship and the protagonist coming to a self-realisation at the end. I am toying with the idea of making films focused on two characters from now on and cutting away everything else! Set design, location, I would just shoot everything in a room if I could. I sometimes find all other elements to be a bore and arbitrary.

J : Is this on DV? What's the budget for this production?
K : It was shot on HD. Budget was $10,000 for production costs and $90,000 for above-the-line and post-production.

J : What were the biggest challenges in making this?
K : It was a complete pleasure. I wish all films were this fun to make.The biggest challenge now, is will the audience like it? If not, that would send me into depression for a couple of months. That is, until inspiration hits again.

J : Is the approach to making this film similar to your previous films(i.e. sort of an experimental, organic process)? Or is it morescripted this time?
K : It was written on the spot. Based on my instincts and the actors’ suggestions, we moved the film forward. It was a thrill and we wish edit would last longer. After a week, we ran out of money. I would love to shoot a film this way for a couple of weeks. I think the stuff we’d bring back would be phenomenal.

J : Do you intend to make a commercial film anytime soon?
K : That question perplexes me a great deal! I have struggled with it for the longest time, since I started in 2003. We can only be who we are. And if that sounds too mysterious, it’s not! I have found that it is better for me to accept what I do well and keep building on that, rather than fight a losing battle. Against myself. So the answer is, I don’t know. I wish I would. But I shall let destiny decide. In the meantime, all I can do is persevere, keep learning and remain positive!
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